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China could downgrade its COVID-19 status

The status of COVID-19 in China could be downgraded, as the virus weakens and more than 95 per cent of current cases are symptomatic and mild.

December 5, 2022
By Ryan Wood
5 December 2022

Conditions for China to downgrade its management of COVID-19 as a serious contagious disease are improving as the coronavirus weakens, state media outlet Yicai reports.

Since January 2020, China has classified the virus as a Category B infectious disease but has managed it under Category A protocols, which give local authorities the power to put patients and their close contacts into quarantine and lock down affected regions.

Category A diseases in China include bubonic plague and cholera, while SARS, AIDS and anthrax fall under Category B. Category C diseases include influenza, leprosy and mumps.

Infectious diseases such as COVID-19 that have strong pathogenicity, a high fatality rate and strong infectivity are classified as Class A or Class B but managed as Class A.

But more than 95 per cent of cases in China are asymptomatic and mild, and the fatality rate is very low. Under such circumstances, adhering to Class A management is not in line with science, Yicai reported late on Sunday, citing an unnamed infectious disease expert.

COVID-19 could be downgraded to Category B management or even Category C, the expert told Yicai.

Any adjustment to the management of infectious diseases by the National Health Commission, China’s top health authority, requires the approval of the State Council, or cabinet.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan last week said China is facing “a new situation” as the pathogenicity of the Omicron virus weakens, becoming the first high-ranking government official to publicly acknowledge that the new coronavirus’s ability to cause disease has diminished.

Since her pronouncement, many major cities have started to lift large-scale lockdowns, reduced regular PCR testing and end checks for negative PCR results at public spaces such as subway stations and outdoor parks. 

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